09 February 2010 20:49 [Source: ICIS news]
GRAPEVINE, Texas (ICIS news)--The US biodiesel industry's share of US pipeline through-put will swell, but the quality of the renewable fuel will have to improve if it wants an even bigger slice of the pipeline pie, sources said on Tuesday.
Rob Woodford of Explorer Pipeline said with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling for 1bn gal/year of biodiesel in the ?xml:namespace>
"This is a significant deal," Woodford said at the 2010 National Biodiesel Conference. "At those levels, refiners want to use pipelines. It would be a 20 cents/gal savings versus truck distribution."
The biggest stumbling blocks for biodiesel refiners who want their fuel to run in integrated
One of the biggest pushes against integrating biodiesel in pipelines comes from the aviation industry, said Steve Anderson with BP Air, a segment of the British petroleum giant.
Aviation original engineering manufacturers (OEMs) such as Boeing, Airbus and General Electric are loath to approve levels of current-quality tallow-based biodiesel, or fatty acid methyl ester (FAME), at more than 5 parts per million (ppm) in pipelines, saying any more FAME contamination of jet fuel would cause havoc with their aircraft engines.
FAME congeals at higher temperatures than other fuels, making it problematic for aircraft flying at high altitudes.
"We came close to shutting
Tests conducted by the National Biodiesel Board and the Pipeline Group industry consortium found that jet fuel containing 100 ppm did not cause performance problems in aircraft, but OEMs were still hesitant to approve anything above current limits, Anderson said.
ASTM International, the organisation tasked with setting standards for the country's OEMs, was still researching safe FAME trail back amounts, he said.
"If you want to see biodiesel really take a foothold, we need 100 ppm approval," he said. "We can have the [EPA] mandate going forward, we can put the product into pipelines, but we'll have problems in the airports. I guarantee it."
David Blatnik at Marathon Petroleum, the largest petroleum refiner in the US midwest, said his company looked forward to shipping more biodiesel via pipeline, as a higher through-put would help justify the $1m-2m (€730,000-1.46m) infrastructure investment his company made to ensure their system could handle the renewable fuel.
But for biodiesel refiners to feel truly at home in the country's pipeline system, more of them will have ensure their fuel meets the biodiesel fuel-quality standards dictated in 2009 by ASTM, Blatnik said.
"ASTM is the ticket to the game," Blatnik said.
($1 = €0.73)
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